Danie’s Toys

I’m hoping to write a weekly Toys post – though it won’t be weekly, and is unlikely to be (all) about toys…

As I sit here, the guys are unpacking our haul of goodies from San Diego – there’s a tidal wave of samples flooding through the office.

I love toy culture.  Gadgets.  Gags.  Collectables.  I have an ever-growing menagerie of art toys above my writing desk and constantly lust after, though never buy, the beautiful works crafted by such companies as Kotobukiya and Gentle Giant.  Everything from Tokidoki to Steampunk makes me wish that I could fill my house full of wonders…

But that would be getting creepy.

In this little space, then, I’d like to share the goodies I find.  I can’t promise it’ll be weekly, nor that it will be all utterly toy-focussed.  As the culture expands to include Hello Kitty branded chainsaws, (just for example), some opportunities simply write themselves.  I can’t even promise that it’ll always be entirely SFW – though I will warn you if it’s not!

This is not a blog, and it’s not a showcase for my employer.

It’s a little corner for me to shout about the stuff I love!

Toy Launch: Lunartik at Forbidden Planet!


HAVE A CUP OF TEA!

We’re delighted to be hosting the Launch Event for Matt ‘Lunartik’ JOnes’ latest range of vinyl figures Lunartik in a Cup of Tea: Mini Series 1 at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8JR.

Matt JOnes’ debut figure, Lunartik In A Cup Of Tea, was an instant and refreshing success to the UK art toy world; Lunartik was the base design for the gorgeous Custom Tea Tour involving such artists as Pete Fowler and Jon Burgerman, which also made its debut at Forbidden Planet. Now, Matt JOnes brings us his first set of blind-boxed mini collectibles, including 12 fresh favours and four hidden special brews!


And from 1pm on Saturday 20th November, Matt ‘Lunartik’ JOnes will be in our store to make you a cup of tea – as only he knows how – along with beautiful cakes supplied by Hidden Crumbs.

Matt JOnes is also the designer of the 3D version of our famous ‘rocket’ brand, originally created by Rian Hughes.


Forbidden Planet has always been on the forefront of the art toy sensation in the UK, hosting events with Tara McPherson, Jon Burgerman, Pete Fowler and James Jarvis as well as being the only UK venue on the Custom Bart Qee Tour in 2007 and raising money for the Alzheimer’s Research Trust with the MonQee Project, as supported by Terry Pratchett and Toy2R.

Visit Matt’s portfolio at: www.Lunartik.com

Bullshit and Artistry


The saying goes: that a short story is to a novel what a sniper rifle is to a shotgun. It’s a precision instrument – there’s no room to fuck about if you want to do the job properly. You can’t just paint the target and hope… you need to know exactly where you’re aiming, and how you’re going to get there.

Having just finished the first short story I’ve written in (cough!) far too many years – and prayed my trigger mechanism isn’t too rusty – it’s kind of led to something else…

Sticking with the analogy: is urban fantasy to epic fantasy what using a weapon is to just noising about it? It has to be real – you have to know exactly what you’re doing because people will bloody-well notice if you’re a bullshit artist.

If you’re an epic fantasy writer, you can make all sorts of cool shit up – a home, a battlefield, a drinking den, an historical date, a stupidly-oversized sword – as long as it’s a socio-cultural fit, you’re away.


Then you come to writing something set in London.

After a bit, it dawns on your little brain that you can’t make that shit up any more. If your characters have a home – you need to know where it is, you need to know what it looks like, you need to know where the closest Tube station is and what the streets are like at two in the morning. Are there pubs or clubs in the area – what time do they shut? Where (if you want to get really anal) do your characters go to get a pint of milk on a hungover Sunday morning?

Hrmmm….


With all this crap in my head, this afternoon I’ve been up in Camden. Not shopping, not even in the Market itself a lot of the time – but ranging that little bit wider. I’ve been on manoeuvres: the side streets, the backstreets, the suburbs, the churches and the tiny, forgotten parks. The normal places, the places that the tourists never go; the places that the cool guys with the facial piercings have no interest in… because no-one can see them hanging there.


What we see in any city – any place – is largely what we’re looking for. When you take a step back from yourself and what’s expected of you, and you go out looking for something new, it’s amazing what you’ll find.

The pen, it seems, it truly the mightiest weapon of all – it makes us aware. But I’m guessing we knew that…

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The Lunartik Fringe


My partner doesn’t get art toys.

Ironic, given he’s a long-time gamer and war-gamer and has painted more miniatures that I’ve ever owned. He had a garage full of tiny artworks – each one a character in a world far wider than our combined imaginations.

I’ve tried to entice him with the occasional piece I’ve brought home – at least the Bondage Labbit got a laugh – but to no avail. Gaming miniatures are all one-offs, he says; they’re not ‘limited editions’ and you don’t have to open twenty identical boxes to locate the one soldier you’re missing. Each one is sculpted, customised and painted with love and detail; ink-washed by your own hand.


Cue Matt ‘Lunartik’ JOnes, setting up his Custom Tea Tour in the front window of Forbidden Planet London.

It’s quite a thing to behold. The propage and set-up, like the character of Lunartik himself, is so wonderfully, quintessentially English – lace tablecloths, chests of drawers – this is a whole new take on a phenomenon that’s held to Japanese origins and American street-culture.

It should be quaint – but it manages to hold an ephemeral sense of cool that just pure Ice-T.

Framed by live Posca Pan art on the window itself, Matt begins the unboxing. I stand outside with my trusty little Lumix; it’s like watching the unpacking of a treasure chest. The staff at FP London are taking every chance to pop out and wonder at the creatures, creations and customs that are being revealed… and passers-by are stopping to stare in amazement. ‘I don’t know what they are,’ one lady comments to her husband, ‘but aren’t they beautiful’.


Yep.

Matt has done a spectacular job; he’s really put some thought into the design and layout of the display and he’s rounded up some of the best names in the business. There are interpretations by art toy culture giants Jon Burgerman and Pete Fowler, plus a delicious selection of conversions by numerous other UK artists. The wonderful thing about the basic 3D vinyl canvas is that that there’s so much you can do with him – and he’s still recognisable, sat always in his Cup of Tea.

Once home, I’m dutifully loading the pictures into my Flickr account and showing off my very own ‘The Earl’ limited edition vinyl figure – and (insert squeeee here) I find the other half has finally found something he can break out the biscuits for.


My son falls in love with Lunartik instantly – he wants to actually make Tea for him to stand in. Derailed from this fatali-tea at the last minute, he sits entranced as we all look through the pics.

They’re creative. They’re beautiful. They’re original. They’re one-off. Each one is a characterful customisation of the original figure – yet remains true to the 3D vinyl canvas. He’s still recognisable. To a long-time wargamer, it’s a positive army of Cups of Tea (stat that one!), each one with name and face and individualism; each one made with love and artistic skill. He loves Lunartik’s wide eyes, his blending of cute and controversial in true art toy fashion. And he loves his true English taste.

And this, of course, then extends to the shelf-full of little vinyl figures that I have above my desk. They’re the prints, I tell him. What you’re seeing are the originals – but each and every 3D print still carries that feeling.


And that’s why I collect art toys.

It seems, after all, they’re just his cup of Rosie Lee.

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Q: When Is A Sex Toy Not A Sex Toy?


Marketing has several cornerstones – targeted relevance, personal contact, customer service, the hallowed spin of the Rolodex… and sex.

And there are just times when something is so obvious, when it stares you in the face, when the innuendo is obvious, glorious and hilarious…

Yet no-one will squeak, publicly anyway. It’s the Emperor’s New Clothes.

A: When it’s a rocket

1978, the Forbidden Planet rocket was launched from a little comic book store in Denmark Street, London – a store still remembered with great fondness by many of my Twitter friends. It’s a street of music shops now – but it still has a bohemian feel that hearkens back to the chilled out, long-hair-and-bell-bottoms memories we have of those times.

In 1988, to commemorate the move from Denmark Street to New Oxford Street in the West End, Forbidden Planet commissioned acclaimed artist Rian Hughes to create the now-world-famous rocket logo and typeface.

In 2008, when Forbidden Planet celebrated its 30th anniversary, we decided to celebrate the New Age of Geek by fusing our long past with today’s street-smart, contemporary art – how better to tie the old with the new than to recreate the cult classic Forbidden Planet rocket in hot, Urban Vinyl 3D?

In 2009, a worldwide exclusive of 350 pieces, the realisation of this fusion has been designed by 3D vinyl artist Matt ‘Lunartik’ JOnes.

And it’s fantastic.

Lunartik’s has also done his own – and signed it!

I know – you know, we all know – that it looks like a toy of a slightly different persuasion (you should see some of the Direct Messages I’ve received via Twitter!). And not only online – it’s caused many behind-closed-doors, unrepeatable comments in the Titan House office.

But y’know what? Aside from the sexiness of a genuine 3D Brand, they work because of their insinuation. They’re perfect urban vinyl – daring, contentious, suggestive, genius.

We have them right here, right now and they – you know I have to say this – absolutely rock!

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